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Summary

Penguin presents the unabridged downloadable audiobook edition of The Descent of Man by Grayson Perry, read by Jonny Philips.

Grayson Perry has been thinking about masculinity - what it is, how it operates, why little boys are thought to be made of slugs and snails - since he was a boy. Now, in this funny and necessary book, he turns round to look at men with a clear eye and ask, what sort of men would make the world a better place for everyone? What would happen if we rethought the old, outdated macho version of manhood and embraced a different idea of what makes a man?

Apart from giving up the coronary-inducing stress of always being 'right' and the vast new wardrobe options, the real benefit might be that a newly fitted masculinity will allow men to have better relationships - and that's happiness, right?

Grayson Perry admits he's not immune from the stereotypes himself - as the psychoanalysts say, 'If you spot it, you've got it' - and his thoughts on everything from power to physical appearance, from emotions to a brand-new Manifesto for Men, are shot through with honesty, tenderness and the belief that, for everyone to benefit, upgrading masculinity has to be something men decide to do themselves. They have nothing to lose but their hang-ups.

©2016 Grayson Perry (P)2016 Penguin

Critic reviews

"Grayson Perry for King and Queen of England. Imagine how brilliant our country would look if he was." (Caitlin Moran)

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What listeners say about The Descent of Man

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Truely brilliant!!

The most fascinatingly informed book I've ever read Grayson you're a legend! I had to read it in one sitting as I couldn't put it down- thank you for such an intelligent book!

14 people found this helpful

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Wonderful

Grayson Peer's wisdom, sensitivity and daring admissions of his own evolution as a man over time show him to have a strength and innate power that is massively attractive in a man; a Real Man. I would love all my male friends to read and learn from this book that they are more valuable to women as themselves and not as predictable stereotypes. Thank you, Grayson.

9 people found this helpful

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Perfect for my studies. Tough one for my morales

Looking for a book to teach me about the new wave of masculinity and all the different sides to it, this couldn’t have done so better. Planting multiple seeds of ideas for my project (Foundation Degree in Art, Final Major Project), I have found many inspirations through this book and so would recommend to any other artist doing the same.

In terms of how it was written, being a young male, I found a lot of the concepts rather subjective and a matter of opinion; however Perry has casted his opinion on these topics without much thought left for other viewpoints. He has made statements in the book which could easily be up for debate, yet are not. Phillips’s performance in narrating emphasised this sense of arrogance through his somewhat aggressive reading tone.

This is not to say I disliked or disagreed with the whole book, I was continuously interested in the themes and topics; my only comment is on the general one-viewpoint tone throughout.

8 people found this helpful

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manages to mansplain feminism

There is a lot to like about this book and it's overall message. It puts a really good spotlight on what is wrong with traditional manliness and how it restricts people's happiness.

The problem is that it offers very little​ in terms of solutions or discussions. Everything is black and white and change needs to happen even if might negatively effect people. He mentions the need for positive discrimination, without even mentioning the drawbacks it may cause.

At the end of the book I have the message of men need to be less old school manly and that's about it. A blog post would of put the same point across. I expected more nuance from Grayson Perry and to go a bit deeper rather than stating the obvious.

6 people found this helpful

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Great read

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's certainly thought-provoking but it's key strength is taking a difficult subject and making it funny.

6 people found this helpful

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Thoughtful analysis

Great readShould be a required text for boys and girls from the age of 10!

6 people found this helpful

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1st hour is a write off

the book works best when he gives real life experiences and gives examples.
unfortunately the first hour is pure waffle and repeats the words "default man" too much.

the other 3 hours are enjoyable and will make you laugh in places.

4 people found this helpful

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Interesting

Interesting thoughts coming from a man about men and their built-in actions and reactions. Grayson Perry may not be an ideal spokesman for the gender but he is totally honest about men and maleness. I hope that once these thoughts have been aired they will be picked up and ruminated on by men and boys the world over. Perhaps then the world will be a better place.

The essay was well read, making it very enjoyable and allowing Grayson Perry come through. Will this be the beginning of a new chapter for the human race? I hope so!

8 people found this helpful

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Post-modernist propaganda.

A pompous and arrogant mis-reading of history, masculinity and human relationships.

Riddled with bias and contradiction.

Anyone who suggests ‘default man’ as a label for any group of people surely cannot see their own prejudices being projected onto those they do not understand.

The author seems to believe all successful, white, straight men must be identical in all aspects of their lives, relics of an archaic idea of what it means to be a man. He dismisses any notion of masculinity that departs from his own as incorrect and not fit for the modern world.

The content is tripe, however, the book is narrated brilliantly, so credit where credit is due.

2 people found this helpful

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Eye-opening!

Remarkable! I highly recommend this to everyone... the content is paradigm-shifting and the narration is powerful.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Edmond Zippo
  • 01-06-20

We must adapt

Change is required in our society for it to get better. This book lists what we men do wrong and what we should do instead. It can seem like a gargantuan task, and maybe it is, but if we don't try, we'll never know. Listen to this book.

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  • ewa-aurelia
  • 17-11-18

Really enjoyed the insight

Although not firmly based in biological sciences about sex differences, the perspective on masculinity offered by the author is accurate and insightful. The beautiful verses of the story are a delight to hear and the message is very important for today's societal/economic transition.